Effects of housing systems on behavioural assessment, bone morphometry and faecal egg counts of broiler chickens
Animals that are well-managed thrive and produce better than those kept under conditions which do not take full consideration of their behavioural and welfare needs. This experiment was conducted with one hundred and eighty unsexed one day-old Marshall and Arbor Acre breeds of broiler chickens to investigate the effects of housing systems on behavioural assessment, bone morphometry and faecal egg counts. The birds were brooded for three weeks and acclimatized for one week in their respective housing systems. Each of the housing systems (deep litter and outdoor run) was allotted 90 birds with 45 chicks per breed in three replicates of 15 birds each after balancing for body weights. The birds were fed same quality and quantity of feed and water ad libitum throughout the period of the experiment which lasted for four weeks. Data were collected on behavioural observations, bone morphometry and faecal samples were analyzed to determine the helminthes egg per gram. The experiment was arranged in a 2 x 2 factorial layout in a completely randomized design. The results of behavioural assessment showed that the two breeds of broiler chickens expressed more (p<0.05) of their natural instincts in the outdoor run compared with their counterparts on deep litter housing system. Irrespective of breeds, birds reared on outdoor run had higher (p<0.05) bone strength (14.61N/mm2) compared with those on deep litter (10.68N/mm2). Also, the result of faecal egg counts showed that broiler chickens reared on deep litter had a higher incidence of intestinal helminthes compared with those managed on outdoor run. It was concluded that outdoor run could be adopted to enhance more expression of natural behaviours, better bone strength and reduced incidence of intestinal helminthes in Marshall and Arbor Acre breeds of broiler chickens.
Keywords: Behavioural assessment, bone morphometry, faecal egg counts, housing systems and broiler chickens